OPINION

Out of order

Dogged by delays, modifications and a great deal of ambiguity, the single property tax, also known as ENFIA, has become synonymous with the Greek coalition government’s inconsistent and ineffective policies after 2010.

ENFIA, which started out as an emergency tax, has had a heavy medium-term impact on people’s private assets as well as a psychological effect on the country’s households, many of which have seen their lifetime savings go up in smoke.

All that is leading to major social consequences which need to be re-examined by the authorities as soon as possible.

Although of secondary importance compared to the essence of the matter, the formalities should not be ignored. Like other emergency taxes, ENFIA is being implemented in a very inconsistent manner that makes it impossible for taxpayers to manage their spending.

The government has not stopped wavering since ENFIA was first introduced in 2011. Who pays? What for? Who is exempt and who gets a tax break? It took an entire summer and half of the autumn to sort out. The authorities sent out notifications, then these were frozen, then corrections were made, fresh notifications were sent out, people started to pay their installments, new clarifications were made on how to correct the E9 property tax form, then the government passed an amendment in Parliament authorizing ENFIA payments in 72-100 installments – as with other outstanding obligations to the state.

A single e-mail from Greece’s troika of foreign lenders, the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, was then enough to block the decision, forcing the government to change the law.

Everything is out of order. There was no reason to humiliate members of Parliament into voting afresh. There was no reason for the government to promise something it could not deliver. The people are being forced to pay unfair and one-size-fits-all taxes. Why should they have to suffer due to the mistakes of the country’s legislative as well as executive powers?